I am not always politically correct. I’m almost always polite. Often, I am politically incorrect while being polite. Infrequently, I am impolite while being politically correct.
My point is that political correctness and politeness are not the same thing. Political correctness implies that a statement, while it may be true, is either inconvenient or imprudent to discuss from a political standpoint. It may be a thought or idea that incites anger in a particular person or group, or would somehow compromise the political standing of the individual expressing the statement to such an extent that it is tactically advantageous to soften the language used or avoid the subject altogether.
Politeness is a manner of speaking and behaving that conveys respect for the person you are communicating to or the person or persons you are speaking about. A certain decorum that has very little to do with what you are saying a a great deal to do with how you are saying it.
Take for instance this example based on one of my own politically incorrect beliefs. I can choose to be polite and say, “I do not believe that it is true that anyone can be anything they choose to be with enough hard work. Everyone has unique talents and some are better suited to particular jobs than others. Some people would have a difficult or impossible time acquiring the skills for some roles. We need to move towards a society that values everyone for their unique abilities and contributions rather than holding some roles above others. What do you think?”
If I chose to express the same view impolitely I may say, “Some people will never be smart enough to have good jobs. Those morons are better off giving up any delusions they have of working their way into important jobs and just realizing those jobs are beyond their capacity. That’s ok though, someone has to clean the toilets!”
Basically the same idea, one expressed (I hope) in a polite tone that invites further polite discussion in the first version, and then another that is impolite, labels a group as “morons” and closes with an inflammatory statement that insults an entire class of workers.
There is a huge backlash in America right now against political correctness. I don’t entirely disagree with that sentiment. As a society, we have come to a place where we often avoid important topics for fear we might offend someone or some group. However, while we need to have more frank and direct discussions about these issues, it is totally unecessary to be impolite in those discussions. It is completely unacceptable for our elected officials to be intentionally insulting and crass, then turn around and justify that behavior by saying they were refusing to be politically correct. Those are not the same thing!
We need to hold our officials accountable. Talking about tough subjects is OK, necessary even. Cutting out the political speak and double talk is also a worthy goal. Being insulting is not only unnecessary, it ultimately weakens their position. They don’t come off as “edgy” or “hardcore”. They come off as jerks.
I understand why we would value politicians who are less PC, but not at the expense of basic decency.